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Authors: Darby Karchut

The Hound at the Gate

BOOK: The Hound at the Gate
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Praise for Finn Finnegan

Winner of the 2014 IPPY Silver Medal for Juvenile Fiction

“Overall, a great choice for adventure-loving readers who prefer their battle scenes with a hefty dose of ancient weaponry, ground-fighting skills, and just a touch of magic.”

—
School Library Journal

“If Lloyd Alexander had written
The Ranger's Apprentice
, the result might have been something like
Finn Finnegan
. Fantastic!”

—Mike Mullin, author of
Ashfall

“As with all of Darby Karchut's books,
Finn Finnegan
is driven by its fully developed and highly realistic characters…a fresh new read dealing with Celtic myth and legend.”

—
RoloPolo Bookblog

Praise for Gideon's Spear

“It's rare to find a sequel that raises the bar, but ye gods! Karchut has done it with
Gideon's Spear
. Loads of action and humor, and well as a formidable new enemy, will keep readers turnings the pages right to the end of Finn MacCullen's latest adventures.”

—Jeannie Mobley, author of
Katerina's Wish
and
Searching for Silverheels


Gideon's Spear
is packed with friendship, adventure, humor, and mystery—everything needed for an entertaining and page-turning read.”

—Lindsay Eland, author of
Scones and Sensibility
and A
Summer of Sundays

“This book was everything I looked for in the sequel—some (but not all) loose ends tied up, action-packed pages, and the amazing characters I had come to love.”

—Mckenzie at
A Belle's Tales

Copyright © 2015 by Darby Karchut

Sale of the paperback edition of this book without its cover is unauthorized.

Spencer Hill Press

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever.
Contact: Spencer Hill Press, PO Box 247, Contoocook, NH 03229, USA

Please visit our website at
www.spencerhillpress.com

First Edition: January 2015

Darby Karchut
The Hound at the Gate : a novel / by Darby Karchut – 1st ed.
p. cm.
Summary:
Thirteen-year-old apprentice goblin hunter Finn (not Finnegan) MacCullen must fight a desperate battle in the Rocky Mountain wilds to save his friends and his beloved master, using nothing but his wits, his dagger, and one beat-to-heck pickup truck.

The author acknowledges the copyrighted or trademarked status and trademark owners of the following wordmarks mentioned in this fiction: Coleman, Express Mail, Gore-Tex, Jeep, Mason jar, MasterCard, NFL, Spider-Man, U2, Walmart, Xena Warrior Princess

Cover design by Lisa Amowitz
Interior layout by Marie Romero

ISBN 978-1-939392-48-0 (paperback)
ISBN 978-1-939392-49-7 (e-book)

Printed in the United States of America

The Hound at the Gate

Book Three
of
The Adventures of Finn MacCullen

Darby Karchut

The Song of the Tuatha De Danaan

I am a wind on the sea,
I am a wave of the ocean,
I am the roar of the sea,
I am a bull of seven battles,
I am a hawk on the cliff,
I am a teardrop of sunlight,
I am a gentle herb,
I am a boar enraged,
I am a salmon in a pool,
I am a lake in a plain,
I am the vigor of man,
I am the meaning of poetry,
I am a spear on the attack, pouring forth combat,
I am the god who fires your mind
.

Dedicated to the many Finnegans who have
graced my classroom over the years.
Knights all
.

Also by Darby Karchut

The Adventures of Finn MacCullen series
(Spencer Hill Middle Grade, an imprint of Spencer Hill Press)

Finn Finnegan
(2014 IPPY Silver Medal for Juvenile Fiction)
(March 2013)

Gideon's Spear
(February 2014)

The Griffin Series
(Copper Square Studios)

Griffin Rising
(2011 Sharp Writ Book of the Year)

Griffin's Fire

Griffin's Storm

Non-fiction with Wes Karchut
Money and Teens: Savvy Money Skills
(2013 EIFLE Book of the Year)

Essential Money Guide: Simple, Sustainable Personal Finance for Real People
March 2014

Words and Phrases

Amandán (Ah-mon-dan): Goblin-like creatures

assegai (ass-a-guy): A short stabbing spear with a long spearhead traditionally used by the Zulu and other peoples of southern Africa

bodhran (bow-rawn): Irish frame drum played with a doubled-headed stick

Scáthach (SKa-ha): Goddess of the ancient Celts who trained their heroes and warriors

Tuatha De Danaan (tua day dhanna): An ancient warrior race of mythical beings from Ireland

Céad mile fáilte (kad meel-a fall-sha):
A hundred thousand welcomes

Codladh sumh (culla sovh):
Sleep well

Éireann go braugh (ERIN guh braw):
Ireland Forever

Fáilte (fall-sha):
Welcome

Faugh a ballagh (FOW-an BALL-ah):
Clear the Way

Gle mhaith (glay moth):
Very good

Poc sídhe (poke she):
Fey or fairy stroke

Sláinte (slawn-che):
Health

One

Crawling through the blackness of the goblins' tunnel, Finn kept his eyes locked on the opening, still yards away. It was strangely shaped, like a half-closed door; a muted light beyond created a rectangle of light around its edges. Oddly enough, he could even see the faint gleam of a brass doorknob.

He struggled along on hands and knees, muscles as heavy as the stone walls squeezing in on him.
Must have used my blood again
, he thought,
to fight them, but I don't remember cutting myself
. Each gulp of breath filled his mouth with the unwashed-armpit stink of goblin.

Something soft and musty-smelling, like a feather duster, fluttered against his face. He gasped. Another stroke along one cheek sent his skin a-tingling. Pressed belly-down against the floor of the tunnel, he twisted his head around and peered upward.

Crows, barely-to-be-seen black shapes, flapped on silent wings overhead. Every once in a while, one would fly into the ceiling and disappear, then reappear, as if swimming through the stone.
What the heck? How can they—?
As if Finn looking at them activated a secret signal, they began cawing. His gut knotted with fear. “Move yer arse,”
he whispered. Gathering his legs under him again, he crawled along as fast as he could.

A hand shot out of the darkness and grabbed his ankle.

Finn cried out.

“Looky what I gots,” a voice drawled in a tone of delight. “A Fey drumstick. With a whole De Danaan attached. I do likes me meat so fresh it's still kicking at the first bite.”

Before Finn could jerk free, a burning pain, like being jabbed with the tip of a crow's beak, ripped through his calf muscle as the goblin bit down. He screamed.

BANG!

Light blasted through the tunnel, blinding him. He squeezed his eyes tight, both from the pain and to hide from the brilliance. A strangled cry tore his throat apart when a hand gripped his shoulder.

“Finn?”

With a gasp, Finn blinked awake. He found himself lying on his side, panting, heart hammering so hard it shook the bed frame. The covers were tangled around him like a burial shroud; the sheet was wrapped tightly about one ankle. Brain still whirling from the nightmare, he peered up in confusion.

Framed in the light from the hallway, and with the door behind him still swinging from being flung open, his master, the Knight Gideon Lir, stood over him, knife in hand. His gaze swept the dimly lit room for threat. “Are you all right?”

“It…it bit me,” Finn slurred. Even as he spoke, he winced at the childish tone.

As if accustomed to being awakened by his apprentice screaming from across the hall in the dead of night, Gideon nodded in understanding. “I trust you bit it back.”

Finn grinned weakly. “Yes, sir.” Kicking free of the restricting covers, he sat up and began rubbing his still-throbbing leg. His master glanced once more around the room, then laid the knife on the bedside table. Within easy reach, Finn noticed. He pointed his
chin at the weapon. “Let me guess—you sleep with it under your pillow.”

“Ye gods, no. ‘Twould be a fine way to lose an ear.” The Knight, bare-chested and wearing a worn pair of sweatpants, took a seat on the edge of the mattress. “I keep mine on the floor beside the bed.” He frowned. “Is your leg hurting?”

“Yes, sir. Well, kind of.”

“Muscle cramp?”

“I guess. Feels better now.” Stretching it out, Finn wiggled his foot. “Why do I keep getting these?”

“Growing pains, nothing more. Kean suffered from them as well, when he was thirteen like yourself.”

Something in the simple way the Knight spoke of his long-dead son eased Finn's nerves. He blew out a long breath. “Sorry I woke you up.”


Whist
.” Gideon waved the apology aside. Raking fingers through hair as black as a crow's wing, the Knight shifted to a more comfortable seat on the bed. One eye, the same uncanny sky-blue as Finn's, gleamed in his lean face; the other was hidden by the shadows. A Celtic knot, the mark of Knighthood amongst their people, the immortal Celtic warriors known as the Tuatha De Danaan, was tattooed on his right shoulder. The tattoo's lines made a dark spider web along the swell of muscle. “Nightmare, eh?”

Finn nodded. “I don't know what's worse—fighting for my life against the Amandán,” he said, using the goblins' more traditional name, “or
dreaming
about fighting for my life against the Amandán.” Leaning back against the headboard, he stretched out the neck of his T-shirt and wiped the sweat from his upper lip. He glanced out the window, closed against the cool night air. The face of the September sky was dusted with the stars of midnight, much like the freckles scattered across Finn's nose and cheeks.

BOOK: The Hound at the Gate
6.95Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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